Sunday, 20 May 2012

Mobile Technologies

Imagine commuting home on the train and pre ordering and paying for your Indian take-away via the mobile. Walk in pick it up or get it delivered at a set time, no credit cards and certainly no cash. Simply a text confirms your order and approved payment credentials. It even tells you what you ordered last time and offers you the loyalty points or free beer right there and then. Payment is verified via a mobile virtual voucher the charge appears on your mobile bill. You then decide to send your sister £50 for her birthday and you ping her the amount via a text message and she can walk into any retailer (not a bank) and collect her birthday money. Don’t imagine any longer just move to Kenya where this actually is in practice now.

Ask any western mobile service provider or certainly any restaurant voucher or discount club provider to name one of the biggest mobile pre order/pre-payment companies in this Kenyan example who operates in ‘mobile intelligent payment sectors’ and they will not know of txteagle ( 2 billion customers in 80 Countries!)

Recent research in the U.K. and U.S. by mobile transaction network mBlox found that British shoppers use mobile coupons more than their American counterparts – 29% vs. 15%.

These figures will rise in 2011/12 as 71% of British and 42% of American consumers expressed an interest in having coupons delivered to their mobile handsets. Coupons alone will not be the only answer.

So you can see why we have seen a rise in investment by Restaurant chains to invest in this early first stage of mobile technology. Ask any IT Directors in the Catering sector and they think if they have a Voucher or Coupon based CRM mobile solution they have a mobile strategy, so VERY wrong indeed.

Apps are NOT the answer as they are limited, unique to vendor and often the designed iPhone app only reaches the 14% of Iphone owners and not open to other mobile infra structures like Blackberry or new 3G and 4G mobile next generation models.

“2011 is poised to be a huge year in the advancement of mobile for retail,” said Sean M. Alexander, technology analyst at IHL Group. “iPhones, iPads and Android devices have all moved past the stage of being cool and into the mainstream.”

The mobile device is here to stay and grow in popularity especially for pre ordering or pre paying for retail goods, discounting or marketing through the mobile device has shaken off any stigma attached to its use, perhaps in part due to the convenience of electronic and mobile formats. While only 1.5% of all coupons are currently distributed digitally, redemption rates are impressive at around 10-15% or as Pizza Express recently stated over 30% compared to an overall paper voucher or direct mailing campaign of 1.2% redemption rates.

Clearly the phone is challenging the way business is carried out in our new mobile world.

“The EPOS providers have had it their own way for long enough say Technology experts in the USA, after all most FPOS/EPOS systems are not complicated technical pieces of kit running equally complicated programs any more (the fear factor within) ..They are only overly priced PC’s with a cash drawer”.

If you assume this stance from the beginning you can begin to appreciate the huge cultural change in how Restaurant and Hotel Brands will take orders or payment or even do their necessary stock control in the very near future. From the how employees will track these orders, how consumers will pay for goods and even to the how CRM/Loyalty schemes operate will change inevitably from paper and plastic cards to consumer’s mobile screens. This viral existence, this dramatic change, will come with next generation mobile phones and the launch of iBook’s. From Australia to USA to Finland to Kenya this is already happening. If in the UK our present Blackberry’s, iPhones and 3G networks can handle this system now why are we not seeing this happening here? The answer is the banks and credit cards control and influence over our finance acts.
So where does this take us here in UK? It’s time for a rethink so be prepared for change. Just Google mobile payments and read the worlds move to this technology. If Japan has it, as does Scandinavia how long before we order our pizza not by APPS but by simple text recognition or by QR Codes to give them their correct title (QR stands for Quick Read) these new square chequered boxes we’re seeing increasingly in advertisements, on products and in our papers can hold millions of pieces of data, the best CRM/Loyalty schemes embedded in their millions of pixel points running loyalty schemes for pennies not pounds The airlines and the rail authorities are already issuing these as e-tickets.

Moving Food Ltd and Juniper Research estimate 15 billion e-tickets will be issued by 2014 in the UK alone!! (From cinemas to stadiums to air/rail and events) So why not in our Catering arenas?

Well nor surprisingly in Scandinavia you can now charge anything up to €25 to your mobile phone bill bypassing the Credit Card companies or Banks, so from parking to your Latte appears on your phone bill, France just passed a new finance act allowing €10 to be their set limit. UK governed by the banks and credit card companies will be slow to adopt legislation, but it’s coming this year.

This new way to order or pay does not require a brand specific app or log into the brands web site to order, all done by a central one number code like a pin number that applies across ALL retailers of your choice.

The scary thing is, and this really does challenge the EPOS providers, most of these mobile systems are free, no infrastructure costs, no maintenance fees and no hard ware to break down…the Restaurant operators will pay for the system through a small transaction fee to manage their menu content, their payments and CRM/Loyalty schemes. Updating promotions or new menu’s takes hours not days. These new innovators in mobile technologies offer added revenue streams as the consumer can be charged for using the system too. Data can be with consumer approval matched with other retailers (Starbucks customers share points with Interflora) this e-tailing is also available now. Your Floor manager will have their own Blackberry where the payment is verified, just as the Parking Attendants do on the high street when you pre pay via your phone now.

Checking into Hotels and pre ordering payment of the room and checking out already exists in Scandinavia, with built in CRM and is coming into the UK in 2011.

Imagine this for a moment: I book my airline and my meal and my duty free and my drinks via my mobile device, a QR Code is flashed back and this gets me onto the aeroplane. A text message arrives when I am in Departures and says, “Did you want the normal Chanel No 5 and Bottle of Gordon’s Gin to await you when you return to London or shall we deliver to your house”? Imagine no longer, this is getting launched this year by several airlines!

So loyalty is rewarded immediately, latte’s to sandwiches to pints of beer will appear on your mobile phone bill and no longer will you need to stand in line at the till to order or waive down a waiter for payment. What is more you will not have to search for a brands app or squint at your screen searching for a brands web site to order or review their menu for payment…well just as they do in Kenya enter via your own personalised shopping site accessed via your mobile and use your secure pin to shop or eat away.

Watch this space and watch this revolution takeplace.

The UK drought can only be an annual occurrence unless we understand how much water we use or waste and all of us do one or two simple things to change our wasteful habits. For those of us facing water meters then these simple techniques will achieve both. Techniques can save us all money and help the drought situation now.


246 litres of water is used between cattle feed manufacturer, cooling and cleaning /making milk containers, is amount is used up to make one glass of milk


Drink less cappuccino’s and consider milk's drain on our water table at all times. Think how much water a Starbucks must use!


The kitchen and bathroom tap on average uses 20 litres of water in one minute if left running.


Do not run the tap to wash dishes, vegetables or even to brush your teeth. If you wait for the water to cool to get a glass to drink, fill a jug and keep in the fridge


Average UK household uses between 500- 700 litres of fresh water per day, that’s about 4 bathtubs full. That’s over 250,000 litres per year. The shower alone if you take a 12-15 minute shower uses 25 litres per minute!


Take quicker showers, run the water into a bucket if you wait for the shower water to heat up. Use the bucket from your shower to water pot plants or water the garden, or use it to boil water for cooking or making tea/coffee


We all flush too many times, 10 litres each time is used. Consult your partner or family, new household rule could be "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown wash it down!" You can of course use the bucket from the shower and dump into the toilet pan to dispose of the waste. This simple technique helps save water.


The Earth has only 1% of it's water suitable for drinking , available at any given time.


With this fact pass the word at your offices or in your work place, fix drips, don't leave water running and think water saving as part of your personal and work objectives.

Fact: Cooking/Eating is becoming a cultural joy with all the programs on TV, fresh food in our markets and shops.

This all takes water to produce, clean or manufacture. Don't add to the water count by increasing water use at home in the cooking preparation processes.


Steam vegetables whenever you can, if you boil, do not cover the vegetables entirely. If you have left over water from vegetables or potatoes especially after cooking, leave it to cool DO NOT dump down the sink. Use the cold vegetable water to add to smoothies, mix with water for a great vitamin enriched and nutritional drink or simply pour onto your potted plants, watch them thrive with this enriched water, better than fertilisers!


50,000 litres of water is lost in the average family bathroom in the UK


Hold a family meeting consider (or even an office meeting to pass on these techniques) examine the families tap policy re running them to wash faces, clean teeth and the longer showers discussed . Can these showers be shortened by a fraction. 2 x fifteen minute showers can use over 50 litres per day remember. Can you all live with if it's yellow let it mellow? Challenge your family to reduce the 250,000 litre annual usage to be cut by 10% (25,000 litres)

There are a number of small things that all add up.


It would only take 10% of us to follow all these actions to save millions of gallons or litres of water per annum.

Use the internet to search for water saving ideas from adding a brick to the water cistern to grey water uses...go on just do something and do it fast.